Energy Efficiency in Housing
A new home built today will use about one-third as much energy as the identical home built in the mid-1970s.
This remarkable success came about in a distinctly Canadian way. Canada’s home building industry – both new home builders and professional renovators – brought a host of innovations to their customers, saving energy and providing a healthier, more comfortable living environment.
Today’s a home’s total energy use is 66% less than the same house built in 1975. This includes energy used for all purposes – heating, lighting and everyday living.
Increased home energy efficiency has been largely market-driven, as Canadians look for more comfort and lower energy bills in their new homes. Building codes have tended to follow, rather than lead, these innovations. Canada’s home builders have embraced energy efficiency as an essential part of meeting customer expectations in a highly competitive marketplace.
The efficiency of most energy-consuming products we buy hardly changes – or it gets worse, over time.
Cars, appliances, light bulbs and electronic products have a fixed level of energy consumption, and there is nothing consumers can do to improve it, short of buying a newer, more energy efficient version.
Homes are different. The energy efficiency of a home can, and does, improve over time as owners repair, replace and renovate the equipment and spaces in their homes.
How much more energy efficient are homes and cars today than 25 or 30 years ago? And how does the improvement in houses and cars compare?
A typical house, built in the Ottawa area about 1975, used a total of 345 GJ1 of energy per year, for all purposes.
A typical family car of the day, such as the Chevrolet Impala, would have delivered fuel efficiency of about 19 MPG2 or 12.4 litres per 100 km of travel.
Today, that same house, built to current Ontario Building Code requirements, would use only 116.8 GJ of energy per year – 66% less.
A 2012 Chevrolet Impala delivers 22 MPG or 10.7 litres per 100 km of travel, a 15.8% improvement.
In short, the home’s energy efficiency has improved four times more than the car’s.